In a magnificent fifth stage at the 2018 Dakar Rally, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Joan Barreda proved too hot to handle, commanding throughout the penultimate date in Peru. In addition to clawing back fourteen minutes from the race’s overall leader, the Spanish rider scales the leader board to fourth place. Benavides, third on the day, lies in second position in the general rankings.
The Dakar this year introduced a system of inverted sections, which saw the motorcycles tackle Sector A while the cars simultaneously raced over Sector B. The special stage covered 266 kilometres before a 508-kilometre link section took the competitors to the bivouac in Arequipa.
The stage was a dune-filled adventure, very technical with demanding navigation and high altitude to complicate matters further. There was even fesh-fesh to contend with during the offroad stretches in the earlier part of the day; the second one passed through the high dunes of Tanaka with the final stint over high-speed stony tracks.
Joan Barreda played his strategic hand yesterday and it paid off handsomely. The Spanish ace from Monster Energy Honda Team pulled out all the stops and romped home with a lengthy advantage that places him right back in the running for the overall prize. The rider from Castellón, Spain, started from ninth position, set an infernal pace from the first control point and reached the finish line after overcoming the impressive Tanaka dunes trouble-free. Barreda finished the stage with a 14’30” advantage over race leader Adrien Van Beveren. This marks the Spaniard’s second stage victory in this Dakar, the 21st of his career and has helped him leap to fourth overall, a mere 7’30” adrift of the French leader.
After celebrating his 29th birthday yesterday, Kevin Benavides continued in the same vein to post third spot on the day and move up a place to second overall position, 1’30” off the leader.
Ricky Brabec, likewise, performed well in the special, finishing ninth. Michael Metge, after an erratic start to the stage, managed to overcome his problems and eventually take twelfth. José Ignacio Cornejo finished nineteenth and is twelfth in the provisional.
Tomorrow, Thursday, the Dakar entourage leaves Peru and enters Bolivia. The forecast in the Transandine country is for rain throughout much of the time that the race is on Bolivian soil. The sixth stage, the last before the rest day will feature 313 kilometres of special stage in a total trajectory of 760 kilometres.